Leland Township man restores old tractor
Plamondon acquired a knowledge about tractors firsthand by restoring a 1949 Ford 8N a few years back.
“When I bought this thing, it was basically a solid big brown bucket,” said Plamondon, taking a few minutes to admire a tractor, he keeps in storage most of the time. “It had rust because it sat out for I’m not sure how long.
“I did get it running before I started the restoration, but only to see if it did run.”
Plamondon, who says he’s always tinkered, had already restored other cars and jeeps when he took on the old tractor project.
And he had seen what one professional had done to an old tractor his brother, Fred, had owned.
At first, Plamondon wasn’t sure if he had made the right choice to restore the four-cylinder motor.
“The motor had compression and two cylinders,” he recalled. “The only way I could get it started was to coast it down the driveway and pop the clutch.”
About 16 months later, Plamondon had the gray sheetmetal (fenders, hood, etc) and red body (castings) tractor running and looking like an original. Plamondon replaced just about every piece, working on it during evenings or weekends when time allowed.
“It’s not like I was in a hurry to get it done,” said Plamondon, who stripped everything and sandblasted the hood and fenders. “I wanted to get it right.
Plamondon had to buy a running board, a steering arm, pistons, ring sleeves and new wiring.
“It was easy to find because they (Ford) made so many of these, hundreds of thousands,” he said.
Plamondon said getting to and rebuilding the motor was the most difficult part of the project.
“The hardest part is what they call splitting the tractor,” he said. “The way it’s built, unlike a car where you can just pull the motor out, you have to block the rear part, and then you take front steering off the tractor and basically take the motor out.”
Plamondon said the back end was extremely heavy and he had to make sure it was blocked well.
Plamondon paid a couple hundred bucks for the old tractor. He put in another $1,000 in parts. He has no plans to sell, partly because he couldn’t get his money out of it.
“Other than the motor and the time, it didn’t need much ... just a few parts and pieces,” he said. “But you factor in your time and hours ... I’d have a tough time selling it, unless the right offer came along.”
Plamondon doesn’t use the antique for show. He uses it for cutting the lawn with a brush hog attached on occasion.
“I didn’t do it for show,” he said. “I use it, but not a lot.
“I’ve a got a few apple trees out back and to keep the field mowed up.”
Plamondon, who owns the M-72 Hobart office that makes and repairs food service equipment, said wrenching has always been in his blood.
He said anybody with a screw driver, wrench and a hammer could get into restoring.
“You can fix or restore old equipment with fairly few tools,” Plamondon said. “There’s nothing to it.
“It’s basically like everybody learned at a young age — if you’ve got spark, fuel and compression ... it should run.”
While the tractor was a worthy restoration project, Plamondon said the job he did on his 67 Camaro was even better.
It took six years to restore a car he had owned since he was 15.
“Restoration is kind of therapy for me,” he said. “When I come out here and work on something, I forget about what went wrong at work.”
It could also be called his vice.
“I don’t drink. I don’t have time or money to drink,” Plamondon admitted. “I’m a collector and I’ve always tinkered.
“ Anything mechanical has intrigued me.”